Tributes to Revd Westley Cole

Salisbury Journal: Revd Westley Cole with Julie Jones Revd Westley Cole with Julie Jones

A MAJOR figure in the life of the Chalke Valley has died at the age of 84.

The Reverend Westley Cole was a seaman, farmer, policeman and transport manager beforehe succeeded in his ambition to be ordained as an Anglican clergyman at the age of 69.

He served as part of the Chalke Valley team ministry, set up a thriving community newsletter and was for more than three decades a Coombe Bissett and Homington parish councillor, including a long spell as chairman. He attended his last meeting in July and carried on editing the Coombe Bissett and Homington Express to the end, despite suffering badly from arthritis.

Des Hobson, deputy parish council chairman, said Mr Cole had been tireless in his work for the community. He said: “He was indefatigable, latterly coming in a wheelchair despite being in a lot of pain. And he was a very forceful person with sometimes very strong opinions. I think we will miss hugely his wisdom and long experience.”

Born into a farming family in Dorset, Mr Cole joined the Merchant Navy as a teenage laundry boy, working on cargo ships and liners including the Queen Mary.

After marriage to Patricia and a spell in farming, Mr Cole became a police constable and coroner’s officer in Poole before going back to farming, buyinhg Cranborne Farm near Coombe Bissett in 1968. Mr Cole had been a Lay Reader since 1957 and was eventually ordained as a non-stipendiary minister in 1993.

His son Jeremy, 63, who is a farmer, said: “I’ve worked within shouting distance of my father all my life and never had an argument. He was quite forceful in his opinions but also the sort of man who would do anything for anyone.”

The Reverend Jenny Taylor, team vicar for the Chalke Valley benefice, said: “He was a huge help to me and all the parish. Because he was ordained late in life, he referred to himself as part of the Dad’s Army of ordination. He had very strong opinions and was very good at getting people to do things for him, always for the right reason. He got things going and really will be missed. He was a huge character and I cannot believe he will not be ringing me up asking me to do something.”

Mr Cole died on December 14, just five days from his 85th birthday and his funeral took place at Coombe Bissett parish church on December 23. He is survived by Patricia, his wife of 65 years, sons Jeremy and Julian and three grandchildren.

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